As I Lay Dying

support Darkest Hour + Himsa + Maroon
author PP date 22/09/07 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

I know, I know, I knooooooooooow. It is so true that we just reviewed exactly the same tour as I'm reviewing now (with the exception of the first warmup act being switched), but the truth is that if we here at Rockfreaks could, we'd probably go see both Darkest Hour AND As I Lay Dying on every single stop of every tour they had. If you read through our reviews of their cd's that shouldn't come as a surprise to you. Most of the staff have wet dreams about these bands, so just because PP had the good fortune to catch them in the Mead Fiddler in the UK, that did by no means prevent us poor souls trapped in the promised land of techno (Hi Denmark) from going to see the guys when they hit Loppen in the free town of Christinia in Copenhagen. On the contrary!

Credits for the photos to Bright Side Of Murder Photography

Maroon

Setting the show in the intimacy-defining bar that is Loppen bore promise of a great show with lots of injuries caused by the wodden pillars and the low ceiling that the venue sports, and as such lots of seemingly mosh-eager fans flood the place as soon as the doors open. Maroon gets on stage to start the show and does an entirely enjoyable job at it, even for those unfamiliar with their material. Their deathcore assaults get a substantial amount of curious heads nodding. While the floor is far from empty, any frantic activity does however not emerge. A lot of people are obviously saving their strength for the moshfest later on. Nevertheless Maroon do a good job. They might not be mindblowing or super-original but they're tight, convincing and deserving of a solid just-above-the-average grade.

Himsa

I for one had our previous review of Himsa's warmup performance in mind while waiting for them to take the stage after Maroon had left. I forgot them almost instantly though, as the band showed to be in a more than somewhat better shape tonight. Ripping through their repertoire they give the crowd a good understanding of why even people who've never heard their music before still find the name strangely familiar. Still, energetic movement and headbanging is at a minimum, and the status of being mere support for the headliners still cling a bit to the atmosphere of the show, but even then, the people who seem more busy greeting friends and getting beer from the bar turn their heads and send smiles towards the stage in recognition of the quality stuff that's going on there.

Darkest Hour

Now when the acoustic opening of "Doomsayer" fills the room, things change in an instant. Except for the music, there's suddenly a moment of eerie silence amongst the increasing amount people in front of the stage. While As I Lay Dying are undoubtably the stars and main headliners of tonight, there's still more than a handful of people who think Darkest Hour deserve that title just as much, if not more. It's also these people that respond immediately to the voice of John Henry, and the restraint that has dominated the crowd so far seems to have never existed. Everyone in the frontline of the crowd are in an instant transformed into examples that it is very very possible to bang your head with your ENTIRE body, while avoiding being shoved on stage by the pressure from the people behind them. The sound doesn't seem totally in order though, and thus John is forced to attempt at entertaining the frenzied crowd for a good while before the band can get on with the second song "Sound Of Surrender". A slight annoyance, that noone really cares about at the time, simply because they're too busy reclaiming as much breath as possible during the small break. Effectively the moshpits that have opened up on the small dancefloor are relentless except for the times when they turn into actual circlepits, going around the pillars that scar the venue's floor. "Demon(s)" predictably receives a roar of reception when it's opening tones sound from the speakers and the crowdsurfers start going about their business, clinging to the logs in the ceiling while rocking out upside down. These activities persist for the rest of the show, as Darkest Hour spoil us by being supertight, only to possibly become even more crazy when the band plays "With A Thousand Words To Hear But One". After the band closes their relatively short set with "Sadist Nation", general opinion is that As I Lay Dying has their work cut out for them if they're to match this performance. However, we at Rockfreaks, while overjoyed with having just seen Darkest Hour, have to, in the name of objectivity, remind ourselves of the initial sound issues as well as the fact that "These Fevered Times" and "Convalescence" are still strangely absent from the setlist.

Darkest Hour Setlist:

1. Doomsayer (The Beginning Of The End)

2. Sound The Surrender

3. Stand And Receive Your Judgement

4. Demon(s)

5. This Will Outlive Us

6. Deliver Us

7. With A Thousand Words To Say But One

8. Sadist Nation

As I Lay Dying

Now it pains me to have to admit it, but the exhaustion from the Darkest Hour show did, as un-rock and roll as it may seem, force me to withdraw and enjoy most of As I Lay Dying's show from a bit further back. In my defense, the elbow that met my face when I tried to get back in the action didn't encourage me further. However, it seemed that the majority of the pit had brought their A-game to the party tonight, as people seemed hellbent at receiving As I Lay Dying in a manner no less than that presented to Darkest Hour. The band dedicates a substantial amount of the show to material from their new album, and the frantic activity continues as they show just how well new songs like "An Ocean Between Us" and "Nothing Left" work live. Again, there's initially some trouble with the sound, mainly the clean vocals, but it's fixed quickly and goes mostly unnoticed by most of the crowd. The only breaks in the set come in form of constant switching of guitars between songs, but otherwise As I Lay Dying go at it with admirable enthusiasm and skill, and in the back I'm enjoying seeing the second band in a row who has no trouble replicating both the clean and the throaty vocals from their albums in a live environment. Something to live up to for A LOT of emo bands out there. Despite the amount of new material there's of course also room for the classics that the fans have been waiting for, and the crowd of course go nuts for "Meaning In Tragedy", "Forever", "The Darkest Nights" and in the end the band closes tonights affairs down to the sound of the mandatory singalongs during "Confined". All in all the performance, while not completely matching the level of magic offered during the greatest moments of Darkest Hour's set, counterbalanced itself with sheer consistency and enthusiasm, and thus it seems that the duel deciding which band is on the absolute top spot in the genre is yet to be concluded.

As I Lay Dying Setlist (not in correct order):

Nothing Left

An Ocean Between Us

Within Destruction

The Sound Of Truth

Forever

94 Hours

Distance Is Darkness

Meaning In Tragedy

Repeating Yesterday

The Darkest Nights

Confined

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